Language Arts, Writing

Structure

Part 1: Multiple-choice questions, 1 hour 15 minutes
Part 2: Essay, 45 minutes

Test overview

The Language Arts, Writing Test has two parts:

Part 1 contains 50 multiple-choice questions that require you to revise and edit workplace, "how-to," and informational documents.

Part 2 assesses your ability to write an essay about a familiar topic.

The scores earned on both parts are combined and reported as a single score.

Part 1

There are 50 questions on the Language Arts, Writing Test, Part 1. They are divided among the following three question types: correction, revision, and construction shift.

30% Sentence structure
Correct sentence fragments, run-on sentences, comma splices, improper coordination and subordination, misplaced modifiers, and lack of parallel structure.

30% Usage
Correct errors in subject-verb agreement, verb tense, and pronoun reference.

25% Mechanics
Correct errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling (restricted to errors related to possessives, contractions, and homonyms).

15% Organization
Restructure paragraphs or ideas within paragraphs, identify topic sentences, and create unity and coherence in the document.

Part 2

In the Language Arts, Writing Test, Part 2, you will write an essay about an issue or subject of general interest. The essay topic will require you to present your opinion or explain your views about the topic.

You will have 45 minutes in which to plan, write, and revise your essay. You will be given scratch paper on which you may jot your notes, outline, and first draft. The answer booklet has two pages of lined paper, on which you will write your final essay.

Sample essay topic

What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?

In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.

Two trained readers will score your essay on the basis of the following elements:

• Well-focused main points

• Clear organization

• Specific development of your ideas

• Control of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice, and spelling

Each reader will score your essay on a four-point scale, and the scores will be averaged to find your final score. If you earn a final score of less than two on the essay, you must retake both Parts 1 and 2 of the Language Arts, Writing Test. Also, you must write only on the assigned topic; if you don't, your essay will not receive a score, and you will have to retake both parts of the test.

All writers make mistakes when they write quickly. Good writers take the time to go over what is written and correct mistakes. Your writing will show your best skills if you take the time to plan what you want to say and review it to make any needed corrections.

Practice questions

Download a printable sample of the Language Arts, Writing test (PDF).
 

Helpful tips

  • Once you get your essay topic, plan to use some of your test time for planning and final revising in addition to writing.
  • Make sure to read the whole document before you start to answer the questions. Some questions test your ability to create a unified paragraph or document and assume that you have already read the entire text.
  • Read the document carefully. When you come across errors, think about how you would correct them. Also, consider whether all the sentences in a paragraph support the main idea.
  • Finally, think about whether the sentences appear in logical order. Once you start working on the questions, you may already have an idea about the correct answers.
  • Use the scratch paper provided to plan out your response to the essay topic. Jot down notes, ideas, outlines, or any other tools that might help you plan the organization and content of your essay.
  • Organize your essay as a direct response to the topic assigned. Your essay should state your response and then explain why you answered the way you did.
  • Use details and examples that show the reader what your response is and how and why you believe it. The more convincing your essay is, the more effective it is. Whatever the specific essay topic may be, think of your essay as an attempt to convince the reader of the correctness of your response.

Language Arts, Reading

Structure

40 multiple-choice questions, 1 hour 5 minutes

Test overview

The Language Arts, Reading Test contains 40 multiple-choice questions that measure your ability to comprehend and interpret workplace and academic reading selections and to apply those interpretations to new contexts.

The questions ask you to understand, apply, analyze, and synthesize information that you are given in the reading selections. Literary texts constitute 75 per cent of each test and include at least one selection from each of the following areas:

  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Prose fiction before 1920
  • Prose fiction between 1920 and 1960
  • Prose fiction after 1960

Non-fiction texts constitute 25 per cent of each test and include two selections of nonfiction prose from any two of the following areas:

  • Nonfiction prose
  • Critical review of visual and performing arts
  • Workplace and community documents, such as mission and goal statements, rules for employee behaviour, legal documents, and communications (for example, letters and excerpts from manuals)

The reading selections in the Language Arts, Reading test range from 200 to 400 words, with poetry running from eight to 25 lines. A “purpose” question appears in bold before each selection; the question is designed solely to help you focus and provide a purpose for reading the text. You are not asked to answer the purpose question. Each selection is followed by four to eight questions.

Practice questions

Download a printable sample of the Language Arts, Reading test (PDF).

Helpful tips

  • Before you read the selection look at the purpose question, which is printed in bold, so that you will have a focus and purpose in mind as you start reading.
  • Some test-takers benefit from glancing at the test questions before starting to read the text; others prefer to read the selection first. You should try both methods to see which works best for you.
  • Read the selection before you begin answering the questions. Most of the questions demand an overall understanding of the text even when a very specific question is asked.
  • If you come to a word you don't know, use the meaning of the whole sentence to guess at the meaning of the word.
  • Pay attention not only to the actual excerpts themselves but also to any explanatory notes, which are set off in square brackets. In excerpts from plays, the stage directions are printed in italics; make sure to pay attention to these sections in addition to the dialogue because the stage directions often contain important information about the setting and the characters' actions and emotions

Mathematics

Structure

50 mixed questions, 1 hour 30 minutes

Test overview

The Mathematics test is divided into two equally weighted parts, each containing 25 questions.

On Part 1 of the test, you may use the Casio fx-260 calculator to compute answers. A calculator will be provided for your use at the official GED® Testing Centre.

Because estimation and mental math are critical skills, you are not permitted to use the calculator on Part 2 of the test. A math formulas page is provided for your reference during the test.

The Mathematics Test assesses your understanding of mathematical concepts and the application of those concepts to various real- world situations. The following four major areas are tested on the Mathematics test:

20-30% Number Operations and Number Sense

20-30% Measurement and Geometry

20-30% Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability

20-30% Algebra, Functions, and Patterns

Although 80 per cent of the mathematics questions are multiple choice, 20 per cent of the questions require you to construct your own answer. Rather than select from five choices, you must record answers on either standard or coordinate plane grids. Both Parts 1 and 2 of the Mathematics test have multiple-choice, standard grid, and co-ordinate plane grid questions.

Resources

Math formulas
You will be provided with a page of formulas like this one at the front of the Mathematics test booklets.

Calculator directions (PDF)  
For Part 1, a calculator (the Casio fx-260) will be provided for your use. However, you are not required to use it. If you plan to use the calculator, you should become familiar with its operations before you take the test. Basic directions for the calculator are provided on this Calculator Directions handout, and on the actual test.

Answering on a coordinate plane (PDF)
This document explains how to answer questions on a coordinate plane.

Practice questions

Download a printable sample of the Mathematics test (PDF).

Helpful tips

  • Some questions will provide you with more information than you need to answer them correctly. Use only the data that are relevant to the particular question.
  • Some multiple-choice questions may not contain enough information to answer the question. In that case, the correct response is "Not enough information is given."
  • When you obtain an answer, take a moment to determine whether your answer makes sense given the parameters of the problem. For example, if your calculation indicates that a one-pound bag of carrots will cost $25, you should check your work for errors because $25 is not a reasonable price for this item.
  • Use your personal experience to solve the problems. The settings used for the problems in the Mathematics test are usually realistic. For example, in a test question that requires you to compute weekly earnings, ask yourself, "How would I calculate my weekly earnings?"
  • In diagrams, do not assume that lines are parallel or perpendicular unless the problem gives you that information in either words or symbols. This rule is true even when the lines appear to be parallel or perpendicular.

Social Studies

Structure

50 multiple-choice questions, 1 hour 10 minutes  

Test overview

The Social Studies test contains 50 multiple-choice questions from the following content areas:

40% History

25% Civics and Government

20% Economics

15% Geography

Most of the test questions are based on written and visual texts drawn from a variety of sources, including academic and workplace texts, as well as primary and secondary sources. The information provided may be one or more paragraphs, a chart, table, graph, map, photograph, cartoon, or figure. In every case, to answer the questions in the Social Studies test, you must understand, apply, analyze, or evaluate the information provided.

Practice questions

Download a printable sample of the Social Studies test (PDF)

Helpful tips

  • As you read the written selections, always ask yourself what the main idea of the text is. Often the main idea is stated or implied in the first or last sentence. If you can't find it there, pay careful attention to the details or examples in the selection to get an idea of what main point they support.
  • When reading a graph, table, cartoon, map, photograph, or other visual representation, make sure to read all titles, legends, labels, captions, and data. They often provide important information about the main idea.
  • Look for trends, themes, and groupings in text excerpts, time lines, charts, and graphs.
  • Sometimes the questions will ask you to consider a cause-and-effect relationship. Keep in mind that a cause can have more than one effect and that, sometimes, multiple causes can result in the same effect.
  • Some questions will require you to identify implications or assumptions in the material provided. This means that you will have to “read between the lines” of what is actually written or presented. Often what is suggested is as important as what is directly stated

Science

Structure

50 multiple-choice questions, 1 hour 20 minutes

Test overview

The Science test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions in the following content areas:

45% Life Science

35% Physical Science (physics and chemistry)

20% Earth and Space Science

Test questions require you to understand, interpret, or apply information that is provided on the test or that is learned through life experience. The information may be in the form of a paragraph, chart, table, graph, map, or figure.

Practice questions

Download a printable sample of the Science test (PDF)

Helpful tips

  • Read the questions carefully, not only for what is stated explicitly, but also for what may be implied or assumed. Sometimes, written text and diagrams have unstated assumptions about what you already know.
  • Make sure to read all titles, keys, labels, etc., on diagrams, maps, graphs, and tables. They often contain information about the main idea.
  • Make sure you understand the scales of a graph because some graphs show relationships, not specific amounts. Bar graphs are often used to compare amounts.